Happy Valley concludes this Sunday, bringing the curtain down on one of the most successful British TV dramas in recent years.

Created, written and directed by Sally Wainwright, it stars Sarah Lancashire as a police officer in West Yorkshire with a demanding role as a sergeant and a complex family life. 

Setting standards rarely seen in typical British cop dramas, it’s been acclaimed by critics while pulling in audiences of over five million. Its first two seasons both won Best Drama Series BAFTA awards, and its dramatic third run could very well land them another. 

With several plot points to be resolved, anticipation is building ahead of the finale. 

What makes Happy Valley a cut above other British police shows?

Sarah Lancashire turns in the performance of a career as Sergeant Catherine Cawood, cementing her status as one of British TV’s great actors and earning several awards, including a Best Actress BAFTA for season two. 

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Balancing internal grief with a no-nonsense attitude and wry sense of humour, Cawood is a far cry from Lancashire’s star-making turn as Raquel in Coronation Street. 

Who else stands out?

There’s not a dud among the cast, but alongside Lancashire there are superb performances from James Norton as the barbaric Tommy Lee Royce, Siobhán Finneran as Cawood’s sister Clare and Rhys Connah as the sergeant’s grandson Ryan. 

HeraldScotland: James Norton as Tommy Lee RoyceJames Norton as Tommy Lee Royce (Image: BBC)

In the show’s final season, young Connah has risen to the occasion admirably as his character comes to terms with the sad reality of his family’s past. 

The cast are served brilliantly by Wainwright’s scripts, in which real humour is balanced by moments of poignancy.

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What else has Wainwright written?

After spending two years as a writer on BBC Radio Four’s The Archers, she moved into television and has enjoyed success with Unforgiven, Scott & Bailey, Last Tango in Halifax and Gentleman Jack. 

I haven’t seen it, where can I catch up?

All three seasons of the show are available to watch on BBC iPlayer. If you’re wanting to be up to speed when the finale airs, that means you’ve got 17 episodes to get through.

And is this really the end?

There are no plans for future episodes, and Wainwright told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme this week that she will soon begin work on a new project.  

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That means viewers should get definitive answers to some burning questions. Will Tommy get his comeuppance? Will Faisal get his comeuppance? Will Ryan finally start saying ‘should have’ instead of ‘should of’?

When can I watch it?

The final episode of Happy Valley is on BBC One at 9pm on Sunday.